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Reclaim the Game!
Chris Newby, London Socialist Party
Coming out just days after the chief executive of Liverpool FC announced proposals to keep even more of the money from TV rights for the richest clubs in the Premier League, the timing of the latest edition of John Reid's book Reclaim the Game could not have been sharper.
As John says: "For fans everywhere the match is the highlight of the week. When your team loses you are depressed, when they win you are on top of the world. Football has been transformed from the people's game into a multi-billion pound arm of the leisure industry."
This is the first full edition for two years and reflects the growing impact of the economic recession on football. While generally ticket prices have increased dramatically, some clubs have been forced to temporarily freeze or reduce ticket prices to try to get more fans through the turnstiles. John also mentions some reheated plans such as having Premier Leagues One and Two, involving Celtic and Rangers from Scotland, in an attempt to boost the income of the clubs involved in this.
This pamphlet is packed with statistics that highlight the increasing grip of the super-rich on football worldwide. It touches on the protests in Brazil against the costs to the public at holding the 2014 World Cup while the multinationals rake in profits.
It also shows how fans on lower incomes are being priced out of going to matches as ticket prices soar while players' agents profits increase dramatically and the top players' wages spiral ever upwards .
There are sections in the pamphlet that deal with racism in football, women's football and the takeover of football clubs by multi-billionaire owners like the Mittal family of John's beloved QPR.
The growing concern that many fans feel about the multi-billionaire ownership of their clubs is shown in this following quote from an Ipswich Town fan on the "Those were the days" fan website about the attempt by the millionaire owner Marcus Evans to buy the freehold to the ground: "The ground should stay in public ownership - then at least there's always a stadium (however dilapidated it gets) into which a club can be formed. I follow ITFC not Franchise Evans."
But football fans have not taken these attacks lying down. John describes the rise of FC United in Manchester and AFC Wimbledon set up by respective fans. There are also fans' movements set up to save their clubs, the latest being Plymouth with fans of different clubs from around the country recently taking part in a fans reunited day.
What is different though about Reclaim the Game is that whilst many other books on football many describe the role of big business in football, very few it offers an alternative as to how football could be run. There is whole section at the end of this pamphlet both with immediate demands to change how football is run but also how football could be run under a socialist society.
Reclaim the Game
£3.50 inc p&p
Bulk order deal - five copies for the price of four
020 8988 8789
In The Socialist 19 October 2011:
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